Supreme Court News Roundup—March 8, 2018

Here’s a roundup of some of the most interesting recent stories about the Supreme Court.

In the New York Times, Adam Liptak discusses the constitutional implications of aging death row populations. “The Court, which has barred the execution of juvenile offenders and the intellectually disabled, is now turning its attention to old people,” he writes. On February 26, 2018, the Court granted cert in Madison v. Alabama, a case about whether Alabama would violate the Eighth Amendment if it executes Vernon Madison,  67-year-old man who has dementia, has suffered a series of strokes, and is unable to remember the crime for which he was sentenced.

On his blog Excess of Democracy, Pepperdine Law professor Derek Muller considers which justices receive the most attention from academics, based on a Westlaw search of law reviews and scholarly journals. And the winner is….. Justice Scalia.

In an article for Slate, Dahlia Lithwick reports on Justice Sotomayor’s appearance at a meeting of college student affairs professionals worldwide. Justice Sotomayor’s “unobjectionable” message called for “empathy, listening, compromise,” Lithwick writes. “It has been all too easy to find those who have been incandescent with fury that she even sits on the court, much less got into Princeton and Yale Law schools, but—as she reminded this crowd—in times when people are so afraid, the only way through is to listen.”

Nina Totenberg of NPR discusses the Court’s role in the national gun control debate. While the Court in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) recognized that individuals have a right under the Second Amendment to have a handgun in the home for purposes of self-protection, Totenberg notes that the Court has also recognized that the right to bear arms is far from absolute. Since Heller, the Court has been conspicuously reluctant to take Second Amendment cases that would further illuminate the contours of this constitutional right. Totenberg suggests three possible explanations for this reluctance: that the Court believes that Heller created clearly established guidelines; that neither side of the gun control debate believes it has enough votes to prevail should the Court consider further constitutional challenges to gun laws; or that “some justices, especially in light of current circumstances, have evolving views on this subject.”


This post was written by ISCOTUS Fellow Elisabeth Heiber, Chicago-Kent Class of 2019, and edited by ISCOTUS Editorial Coordinator Anna Jirschele, Chicago-Kent Class of 2018, and ISCOTUS Co-Director and Chicago-Kent faculty member Christopher Schmidt.

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